So I recently extolled the virtues of drinking hearty amounts of green tea and how it can be incredibly beneficial to the body and mind (You can read it here if you’d like to!). And while it might be true that this verdant delight can do wonders for your health, it’s also true that I haven’t drunk nearly enough of it!
Things had to change, so during my last order with Adagio Tea I decided to venture away from my usual black tea and oolong and find a green tea to expand my horizons with. (I’m fully aware that green tea isn’t some kind of hallucinogen by the way, I was just getting a little creative with my words)
The tea I picked out was from the Master’s section of the website which is home to some of the rarer and higher quality teas that Adagio have to offer. It includes a number of incredible sounding oolongs and black teas, as well as the green teas that I was searching for. After perusing through all the options, I decided upon a tea named Shizuoka Shincha. The name gave nothing away to me, but the packaging looked nice so that seemed a perfectly acceptable factor to base my choice upon.
Shincha, meaning ‘new tea’ is the first harvest of tea leaves of the new year. This first harvest can also be referred to as ‘first flush’ but Shincha differs from others as it is never cold stored, and is processed for drinking straight after picking. The first pick of the Sencha leaves is a celebrated event so I was very much looking forward to giving this tea a try and broadening my green tea knowledge.
I had read that this particular tea was quite temperamental, and that water temperature and steeping time could seriously affect the flavour. With my kettle having only one temperature setting, boiling, I had to improvise and resorted to using a meat thermometer to determine when the water was ready for the leaves. When needs must and all that. I set a two minute timer on phone and let the tea steep.
Now here I must tell you that I had already tasted this tea before when I first received it. I didn’t think it was fair to to treat that instance as the basis of my review however as, for some reason, I had foolishly decided to ‘go rogue’ and completely ignore any steeping advice that might be out there. I didn’t even look at the instructions on the tin, I just brewed it up and then had to deal with the consequences. What followed was not good. My brother, who had popped over for dinner, hit the nail on the head with his description of the scalded, over-steeped delicacy with, and I quote, “It tastes like water that has been used to boil a ham.” Sadly on that occasion, I couldn’t agree more!
This time however, I did things by the book and the result was sooo much better. The hamminess was completely gone (which was a relief) but a slight saltiness remained, accompanying the fresh, grassy, and somewhat piney, taste nicely. It was a very delicate flavour that my previous experiences with green tea could not match, which I think must have something to do with the early picking of the leaves. Adagio suggested that notes of peach blossom and sweet pea sprouts can also be found within the complex flavour, but unfortunately I don’t think my palate is quite at that stage yet!
I would love to see what this tea would be like if it was prepared by someone who actually knew what they were doing, rather than by me and my meat thermometer. I feel like it could be a real umami-ish treat that a lot of people would enjoy.
Given its fiddly nature, this is definitely a tea you need to set aside time for, to make right but also to sit and enjoy the taste. It’s worth a try though, as the flavour I got from it the second time around was like nothing I’ve ever tried before. If you’re interested you can find Shizuoka Shincha by Adagio right here!
Have you tried Shincha before? What flavours did you get from it? Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.